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APPLAUSE AND CHEERING
Well, hello, hello, hello, hello,
and welcome to QI,
where this week our food for thought is food.
Surfing on a smorgasbord of succulence ce soir
is our delicious panel.
The rarest of truffles, David Mitchell!
The choicest of cuts, Rich Hall!
The strangest of fruit, Jimmy Carr!
And something furry that's fallen down the gap between the oven and the dishwasher, Alan Davies!
We're sitting comfortably. Let's ring for service. David goes...
CHURCH BELL TOLLS
before we tuck in, I've had a tongue down your... I've put a tongue...
You will find a tongue.
I've put a tongue. Is there a tongue under there?
-Is this what you were referring to?
That is what's known as a tongue map.
During the course of this evening's festivities,
I'd like you to fill in the areas of the tongue that are responsible for which flavours.
There's a certain number of flavours that the tongue can detect.
So each area is a different area of taste?
So if you had that bit of your tongue lopped off,
you wouldn't be able to taste certain stuff?
That's the theory of a tongue map.
But there are only five things that a tongue can detect.
How does the food know where to go?
While you're thinking about that, let's have a question.
What kind of animal
can you eat without killing it?
In the south, in the deep south in the Bayou,
the Bayou or the Bayou,
yeah, uh-huh, yeah.
The freshwater mussels, they pick them out of the water with tiny pink crabs on 'em
and they're considered a delicacy.
They're alive when you swallow 'em.
These are things you can eat fully, but you don't kill the animal.
Something that comes through like sweetcorn, except it's still running around?
Is that what you're saying?
-Comes out unharmed.
-I'm not saying it passes through the digestive system, no.
-But it stays in you and sets up a community.
-Is it what they put in Yakult?
-They witter on about that.
-Bifidus digestivum. L-casei immunitas.
David, you know these things. I'm impressed.
I spend a lot of time watching TV.
Listening to the new made-up science is entertaining!
I love it when they go, "Do you want to buy a tiny pot of off milk?"
-It's such a good deal. "Just try it for nine weeks.
"If you don't feel better, give up, cos if everyone tries it for nine weeks, we're in the money."
Do ladies sit around discussing bloating a lot?
It happens in the adverts.
If there are ladies watching this, and talking about bloating,
have they tried farting like a docker?
Cos it works remarkably well for me!
-Try to get someone to pull their finger.
-Lady bloating is different, I believe.
-They bloat differently?
-I believe so.
They also talk increasingly on TV about being constipated.
-The standard of female conversation is plummeting!
That's true! What happened to the little ladies who were so refined?
Anyway, in a sense, you're probably right about bacteria
which would possibly pass through and not be killed.
But this is actually a delicacy. I'm inclined to give the point to Rich
-because he's accidentally right...
-..and wrong as well.
-That's the story of my life!
-It's one of the most popular foods,
-almost the national dish, of Florida.
Not tapeworm, no, it's a type of crab.
-It's a stone crab.
Stone crab tours are very popular. There is a stone crab.
The fishermen catch the crab, they snap off the claws,
and throw the crab back in and it takes a year for its claws to grow back.
It's considered a great delicacy, served with butter and mustard sauce, very popular
in restaurants in America, but particularly in Florida.
What does it do for a year, armless, wandering about?
-He keeps himself to himself.
The crab is dismayed when it loses its claws. "Now I can't get any work done!
"All that stuff. I'm trying to rearrange the sea-bed
"and it'll be a year before I can do anything!
"I'll just have to lay up."
It's almost like they're fruit-bearing animals.
That's pretty similar to that. Exactly.
An apple tree has its apples taken off and next year it grows more apples.
So maybe they're trees.
Just seafoody trees that can walk around.
You could have given me as an answer as well, there are certain tribesmen in the Masai Mara in Kenya
who will drink the blood of cattle, not kill them,
but slit the throat, drink the blood and mix it with milk, actually.
Then they bind up the wound so they don't kill the cow.
-But that practice is dying out.
-So they think cattle have two drinks.
You can have one or the other or a mixture of the two. Fantastic.
-These two-drink animals!
stone crabs it is. They're returned to the sea alive and their claws have been taken off.
They grow another though it's never as good as the first one.
Now, what can you usefully teach an oyster?
-Is it not to get its hopes up?
-Is it to expect lemon juice and death?
"Don't put up a struggle. It'll never work."
Teach it, "When you get lemons, make lemonade." Cheer it on.
"When you get lemons, you're seconds away from death.
"Cos you're not like that kind of crab."
When you think about it, there's not much an oyster can do.
Teach it to blend into parties and make it look like it was invited.
-Cos if you go to a party and there's a snack tray, no-one ever says,
"Who invited the oysters?"
True. No-one says that.
Teach them to do impressions. They do a good one of a whelk.
-Teach it rudimentary percussion.
If you showed it a castanet,
it would probably think, "I can do that."
You're very close.
What it is is that out of the water, oysters will stay fresh so long as they're closed.
But they live their lives opening and closing their shells
to let nutrients in which they filter.
So the thing is to teach them to keep their mouths closed for long periods of time.
You do that?
Well, the French did.
The French simply hit them with metal rods which makes them close.
They'd do that for longer and longer and they'd learn
cos they know they'll get hit all the time.
-The French have a gift for cruelty!
-They do, don't they?
But what happened in New York, when the settlers first arrived in what is now New York,
there was a profusion of oysters, some a foot long.
But they couldn't transport them across the States
because they'd go off cos they had their things open. There was no ice around.
So they would move them up the bank at each tide
so they had more and more time in the air and that would teach them
to have their mouths closed for longer. So they'd learn
to have their mouths closed for longer and longer
until they were closed long enough to sell them without making people ill.
There we are. That's your oyster.
Now, how did the Mounties use fruit machines to get their man?
-When you say fruit machines, is this a friend of yours?
That guy's a fruit machine!
You're right in a sense. The fruit machine was a nickname, it wasn't a one-armed bandit.
It'll be something to do with actual fruit.
No, it is actually the meaning of it that Jimmy,
in his rapacious and, if I may say, politically wildly incorrect way, went for.
Sorry. Well, the Mountie uniform is quite..."fruity".
No. It's easy to forget the Mounties are the Canadian police,
the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
-That's all of them, there.
-So they have no unmounted police?
-I don't know...
-It must be difficult on raids of small flats.
"Ow! My head!"
You should see the squad cars! They're a mess, David. A mess.
Imagine trying to chase a heroin addict up a small staircase on a horse!
-The heroin addicts would know to head for the small staircase!
JIMMY: Like trying to police a country with Daleks!
It would never work. With the disabled access, the Daleks can get everywhere.
Jimmy, are you saying that you think disabled access is a Dalek conspiracy?
Yes, that is exactly what I'm saying!
No, we come back to this fruit machine.
In the Cold War period,
they were worried in a lot of Western countries
about civil servants.
There'd been scandals about civil servants being blackmailed. For what reason?
-For being homosexual, being gay.
Now, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police were trying to find out the homosexuals in the civil service.
So that they could not be honey-trapped by Soviet spies.
That was the theory, anyway.
So is one of these gay? Never Mind The Buzzcocks. Number three!
-Was this before the RAF invented "Gaydar"?
Exactly! It was a "Gaydar" machine, if you like,
a pretty primitive device which, among other things, showed people pictures of nude men and women
and measured their pupil dilation and their perspiration.
But the awful thing is, if they "failed",
they were sacked. That was their job over with.
They were deemed to be homosexual and they were out of a job.
The system was thrown out by any civil servants who fancy horses!
Or even running the test, riding round the room, saying,
"I can't reach down to the fruit machine. Damn these horses!"
-This crude measurement device was replaced, though, by something called...
-Dancing On Ice!
"Do you like "Dancing On Ice"? Is this a trick question?
"Yes, I do." "You're out."
You answer, "It's to die for!"
It's a plethysmograph.
A plethysmograph is an instrument - there's a male version and a female version
because they want to catch lesbians as well -
so the male version measures the tumescence of the male member when certain images are played
and for women it's a sort of dildo that measures lubrication.
-I wouldn't mind doing that!
Jimmy, so much is coming out here.
-Just saying, the testing...
-You'd like to do that?
-Who got the testing job? That sounds brilliant!
-Oh, doesn't it?
Well, I'm just saying.
It'd be a giggle. When was this?
-When did they invent that?
It was used up until the '80s.
'80s?! Surely it was legal and above-board in the 1980s?
-Exactly. It's odd.
-It's weird that they'd go, "We'll double-check."
The odd thing about the fruit machine was the guy who brought it to Canada, Kurt Freund,
had actually invented it in order to do the precise opposite.
It was to catch out people who claimed they were gay
to use it as exemption for serving in the Czech army.
Now, you have a choice of venues for dinner tonight.
Russia or France.
Describe the difference between Russian and French service.
In France they give you lots of vaguely obstetric instruments
to dismantle things like frogs' legs and snails.
-All the stuff you'd have your back yard fumigated for.
And in Russia, they just go, "Here's a turnip."
"If you don't like it, you're going to Siberia."
-Do you know what the Russian national dish is?
It's not my fault!
-I think I know the answer to this.
Almost all service now is what you'd call Russian service.
Which means you have food in courses, one after another.
And French service, obviously the French have food in courses like everyone,
like the Russians, but French service was everything coming at once.
-Like a kind of buffet.
-That is an absolutely perfect answer.
David Mitchell, have a handful of points.
And of course there's the tapas principle in lots of Middle-Eastern and Mediterranean cooking.
But the French, right up until the 19th century
all the courses would come in one big go. You'd help yourself to everything.
And then the Russian ambassador to Napoleon's court
came and said, "We've had this brilliant idea in Russia.
"Let's eat one course and then another."
This was considered absolutely staggering and revolutionary,
and it caught on.
Then the Americans improved on it by making it able for you to drive through in a car!
And get it in a bag from a 16-year-old...
-They did indeed.
David, I have to call you my teacher's pet
and you get a special fanfare instead of a forfeit. Brilliant.
I don't feel that cool!
It's not a cool thing to be, but you do get points.
For some people, that's important.
Escoffier was the man who introduced this into private homes
-and more importantly, restaurants. What do you know about him?
-He started frogs' legs.
-I know that cos I heard it on David's radio show.
I should at this point say in the QI annual,
I did a page on Escoffier.
-So I'm quite well, um... This could be a good bit!
-Um, and he...
-I don't know!
-A terrible house fire!
He died in 1935. He lived a long time. 62 years he was a chef.
-He founded the Ritz in Paris and the Carlton in London and was the chef at the Savoy.
-What's his most famous dish?
-He invented Peach Melba for Dame Nellie Melba.
-Dame Nellie Melba.
-Also apparently invented Melba toast for her as well
cos she was dieting in between Peach Melbas!
-And who was Nellie Melba?
-She was an opera singer.
-And what was her real name?
-Yes! Very good!
-I'm so impressed.
-..her father was David Mitchell.
Get out! Do you know... Do you know...
APPLAUSE DROWNS SPEECH
-I am truly impressed. It's not a set-up.
-You are tumescent! I know you are!
Where's the fruit machine now?
-Nude facts! Oh!
Again... Can I make you a double teacher's pet? Yes!
I'm gonna give you another fanfare because that was extraordinary.
I don't want to rain on your parade, but Stephen's pupils are ten times bigger!
I am, as Alan said, aroused by people who are passionate about interesting facts.
The fact is, until Escoffier introduced "Service a la Rousse", to Western Europe
meals were served all at once and eaten in whatever order you fancied.
Let's have a look at your tasting maps.
What have we got here? We'll start with Jimmy. What have you got?
You taste failure there and success at the back.
The bitter taste of resentment.
Bitter at the back?
What are the tastes? Salt, sweet...
-Didn't they invent one, which is MSG?
But they didn't discover it until 1911 or something?
-Umami. It's the brothy, mushroomy...
-I love it.
-Is that it?
-What's Gordon Ramsay wittering on about
-in those shows, if that's it?
-On the tongue.
There's a rainbow of things in the olfactory bulb in the nose.
That's where all flavours can be detected.
But the tongue is only for those five.
What have you got, Rich?
-Can you taste guilt?
-David, what have you got?
-I've got, um...
Cos it does make you be sick.
And that's "forgotten names", on the tip of your tongue.
I've got bitter, sour and sweet and then I ran out of ideas.
-I had savoury. I didn't think it was right.
-Umami is savoury.
Then I had one left so I just put jam in!
-For all we know, your tongue may...
-Are any of these right?
-No. The fact is,
all this, the whole tongue map idea is actually nonsense.
Thank you. Throw your tongue over your shoulder.
JIMMY: If I could do that...
You wouldn't be working here, for a start!
I'd be a happy man! She wouldn't let me leave the house!
Because you could lick your shoulder blade?
-Well, the inference being...
-I suppose, yes.
We detect those five primary flavours all over the tongue
and not in that... That used to be held to be the tongue map.
Amazingly, it's still in a lot of text books.
But it is absolutely not true.
And so we come to the highlight of our feast,
the piece de generale ignorance.
Elbows off the tables and fingers on the buzzers.
-Name a poisonous snake.
Poison is not the same as venom. It can't be.
Because there are load of poisonous snakes.
You sounded so like Jonathan Creek just then!
You suddenly hit it with the pen. It was so right.
You went, "Got it! I've got the answer! In a locked room..."
-There's lots of them.
-Well, we haven't name one yet.
I'm not going to. They're all gonna be up there.
-You're so right.
-We were hoping you'd say cobra and...
-He said it!
And all those things. But "poisonous" does not apply to them.
It means if you eat it, it makes you very ill or kills you.
-Venom is injected into your blood.
Those are all venomous snakes. There are only two poisonous snakes,
ones that if you ate would kill you, like a poison fruit or berry.
And they are, there's the Japanese grass snake,
Rhabdophis tigrinus, becomes poisonous by eating toxic toads.
It stores them in glands in its neck. If you eat that, you'll die.
-Or there's the Thamnophis sirtalis...
-..which is the common garter snake.
-What are you talking about?
It eats a poisonous newt, an orange-bellied rough-skinned newt.
Now, what shouldn't you eat before bedtime?
And again, once again, it's a trap!
-Gives you bad dreams.
-Supposedly. But apparently,
according to a study, it's been debunked.
In 2005. Apparently it gives you good dreams.
But the study was instituted by the British Cheese Board!
-They may have an axe to grind!
-Are you suggesting corruption?
I think they're aware of the joke.
They say there's an amino acid in cheese as there is in milk and all dairy products called Tryptophan
which gives you peace and joy and tranquillity and helps you sleep.
-No, that's Temazepam!
-Temazepam! But Tryptophan is a natural one.
The British Cheese Board says, "Let them eat cheese."
But who said, "Let them eat cake"?
That French woman - Dawn French.
-She said, "Let them eat brioche"!
I'm not saying it!
But I'm asking you. I need to know!
Ooh! Was it Mr Kipling? KLAXON
Oh, Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy!
-Kirsten Dunst in that shocking film,
the worst film ever made since Revolution with Al Pacino.
-Did it involve cakes?
-A Marie Antoinette film.
-Yes. So did you say what? Who said it?
-What you said.
Why do you keep saying Marie Antoinette? KLAXON
Because I wanted that to happen!
Marie Antoinette didn't say it, or if she did, she was quoting it.
She was born in 1755, as every schoolboy knows.
The phrase was seen in print in 1760
and Jean-Jacques Rousseau claims to have seen it in 1740.
So this whole idea that it was Marie Antoinette is not true.
You want to hear the whole conversation.
"They've no bread." "Let them eat cake." "They haven't got cake, either." "Oh. This is a problem."
-"I'll talk to the ministers about it and see what we can do."
-That may well be it.
The accusation that one grand lady or another committed this gaffe
was in circulation at least 15 years before Marie Antoinette was born.
Now, what makes up more than 70% of the internet?
It's my personal collection, isn't it?
-Of gentlemen's special interest literature.
-KLAXON I didn't say that!
-I think we know
-what you're talking about!
-If you're gonna be like that...
It's quite surprising. They did a survey on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union
who were annoyed about some legislation Bush wanted to pass,
which they thought prohibitive of personal liberty
and they discovered that less than 1% of the internet is pornography.
Less than 1%. Of all email traffic,
85, in fact up to 89% is spam. Simple as that.
-Trying to sell you Zanex and penis enlargement.
-Yes. Soft Cialis, whatever that is.
I get loads of 'em. Most are from my girlfriend.
It's the ones from my mum that really hurt.
A recent study has established that the World Wide Web is less than 1% pornography
and 89% of all emails are spam,
good news if you're looking for pills or want to increase your extremities.
That brings us to the coffee and liqueurs, as it were.
The end of our little dinner. L'addition, s'il vous plait, garcon.
Let's look at the scores. It's pretty unsurprising to those who've been paying attention
that our runaway winner with a full ten points is David Mitchell.
Well done to David with ten and it's medium with minus two to Rich Hall.
And it's a very rare third place for Alan Davies with minus 12!
Looking decidedly blue, it's Jimmy Carr with minus 46!
So it only remains for me to thank my fellow diners, Rich, Jimmy, David and Alan
and to leave you with the reproving words of our Dame Nellie Melba
on being presented with a gelatine-based pudding
which had not been allowed to set properly.
"There are two things I like stiff", she said, "and one of them's jelly." Goodnight!
Subtitles by Moira Diamond Red Bee Media - 2009